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BEFORE all things that essentially exist, and before the total principles, there is one God, prior to the first God and King, remaining immoveable in the solitude of his unity; for neither is the Intelligible immixed with him, nor any other thing. He is established, the exemplar of the God who is the father of himself, self-begotten, the only father, and who is truly good. For he is something greater, and the first; the fountain of all things, and the root of all primary Intelligible existing forms. But out of this one, the self-ruling God made himself shine forth; wherefore he is the father of himself, and self-ruling: for he is the first principle and God of Gods. He is the monad from the one; before essence, yet the first principle of essence, for from him is entity and essence; on which account he is celebrated as the chief of the Intelligibles. These are the most ancient principles of all things, which Hermes places first in order, before the ethereal and empyrean gods and the celestial.
But, according to another division, he (Hermes) places the god Emeph1 as the ruler of the celestial gods: and says that he is Intellect understanding himself, and converting other intelligences to himself. And before this he places the indivisible One, which he calls the first effigies, and denominates him Eicton; in whom, indeed, is the first intellect and the first Intelligible: and this One is venerated in silence. Besides these, other rulers are imagined to exist, which govern the fabrication of things apparent: for the demiurgic Intellect, which properly presides over truth and wisdom, when it proceeds to generation and leads forth into light the inapparent power of the secret reasons, is called Amon, according to the Egyptian tongue: and when it perfects all things not dcceptively, but artificially according to truth, Phtha; but the Greeks change the word Phtha into Hephæstus, looking only to the artificial: regarded as the producer of good things, it is called Osiris, and according to its other powers and attributes it has different appellations. There is also, according to them, another certain principle presiding over all the elements in a state of generation, and over the powers inherent in them, four of which are male, and four female; and this principle they attribute to the Sun. There is yet another principle of all nature regarded as the ruler over generation, and this they assign to the Moon. They divide the heavens also into two parts, or into four, or twelve, or thirty-six, or the doubles of these; they attribute to them leaders more or less in number; and over them they place one whom they consider superior to them all. Hence, from the highest to the last, the doctrine of the Egyptians concerning the principles, inculcates the origin of all things from One, with different gradations to the Many; which (the Many) are again held to be under the supreme government of the One: and the nature of the Boundless is considered entirely subservient to the nature of the Bounded and the supreme Unity the cause of all things. And God produced Matter from the materiality of the separated essence, which being of a vivific nature, the Demiurgus took it, and fabricated from it the harmonious and imperturbable spheres: but the dregs of it he employed in the fabrication of generated and perishable bodies.—Jambl. sect. viii. c. 2. 3.
The glory of all things is God, and Deity, and divine Nature. The principle of all things existing is God, and the Intellect, and Nature, and Matter, and Energy, and Fate, and Conclusion, and Renovation. For there were boundless Darkness in the abyss, and water, and a subtile spirit, intellectual in power, existing in Chaos. But the holy Light broke forth, and the elements were produced from among the sand of a watery essence.—Serm. Sac. lib. iii.
The world appears to them (the Egyptians) to consist of a masculine and feminine nature. And they engrave a scarabæus for Athena, and a vulture for Hephæstus. For these alone of all the Gods they consider as both male and female in their nature.
Chæremon and others believe that nothing existed prior to the sensible worlds, and they place among the foremost of such opinions the sentiments of the Egyptians, who hold that there are no other gods than those which are called the planets, and the constellations of the Zodiac, and such as these. They say, also, that the honours paid to the ten great gods and those which are called heroes, whose names appear in the almanacks, are nothing else than charms for the cure of evils, and observations of the risings and settings of the stars, and prognostications of future events. For it seems that they esteem the Sun to be the demiurgus, and hold that the legends about Osiris and Isis, and all other their mythological fables, have reference either to the stars, their appearances and occultations, and the periods of their risings, or to the increase and decrease of the moon, or to the cycles of the sun, or the diurnal and nocturnal hemispheres, or to the river: in short, that every thing of the kind relates merely to physical operations, and has no connexion or reference whatever to incorporeal and living essences properly so called. Most of them, also, suppose that some indissoluble connexion exists between our concerns and the motions of the stars, by a kind of necessity which they call Destiny, whereby all sublunary things are connected with these gods, and depend upon them. Hence they serve and honour them with temples and statues and the like, as the only beings capable of influencing Destiny.—Eus. Pr. Evan. iii. c. 4.
1 Generally supposed to be a mistake for Κνὲφ, Cneph.